It's not difficult to attract top sailors to an event if the organizer offers fair winds, efficient race management, nifty trophies and a minimum of protest hearings so as not to interfere with the nightly parties.
That's why Bruce Golison has attracted 122 competitors to his fifth Audi/North Sails Race Week at Long Beach starting Friday.
The last couple of years, Golison has had trouble keeping entries out of the event, holding the limit to 100 to keep it manageable. This year, with race management help from the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club, he lifted the ceiling and added a Swan class for eight of the classic racer-cruisers, luring 1970 America's Cup defender Bill Ficker of Newport Beach out of semi-retirement to skipper Richard Long's Flyer, a Swan 57.
Jack Sutphen, who has been Dennis Conner's trial boat helmsman in the last few America's Cups, will sail another.
For the first time, the event has attracted significant numbers from outside the immediate area--five from San Diego, seven from Ventura-Santa Barbara, two from San Francisco and two from Hawaii.
Seven classes, aligned for Performance Handicap Racing Fleet ratings from 39 to 174, will use two courses beyond the east end of the Long Beach breakwater. There will be a working man's race at 4 p.m. Friday, the first of two races Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and the final race Sunday at 11:30.
There will be two new events within the event. The Audi Yacht Club Challenge is for three-boat teams, competing with combined scores, and the Lydia Kent Memorial Trophy is for family crews--a minimum of three, including the skipper.
As before, the winner of the most competitive class will get the Audi Quattro Trophy, which was won by Steve Flam in the fiery J-35/Schock 35 fleet last year. This year the Schocks outnumber the Js, 16 to 11, in the no-handicap competition.
There also will be a North Sails racing clinic at 9:30 a.m. Friday and a Durgan/Wake electronics seminar at noon--both at the Hyatt Edgewater Hotel and both free to the public.
One disadvantage Golison has in not running his event through a yacht club is that he has more work to do himself. One advantage is he can run it any way he likes--and the sailors seem to like the way he runs it. No marine professionals are allowed to steer boats, unless they own them.
The biggest plus the last couple of years has been an alternative penalty system, allowing competitors to absolve themselves of fouls without enduring a protest hearing.
The Transpacific Yacht Race drew 50 entries, including Bob McNulty's Cal Cup winner Chance, a Santa Cruz 70, and the venerable Ragtime, to be sailed by owner Pat Farrah's son Mike and Mike Elias. The biennial race to Honolulu starts Friday, June 30 off Point Fermin at 1 p.m. . . . Randy Smyth and Tom Blackaller, each holding a victory in the Salem ProSail series for 40-foot catamarans, go at it again at Newport, R.I., this weekend. . . . Sailing on TV (ESPN): Friday, 4:30 p.m., Boating World; Saturday, 9 a.m., the "12-Meter Challenge" at Sydney when Dennis Conner ran aground and lost to Iain Murray; Monday, 5 p.m., Russ Silvestri's $50,000 victory in the Ultimate Yacht Race series at Corpus Christi, Tex.